In a massively disrupted market, Twilight Signs worked to reposition from sign making to branded spaces. Now they’re thriving.
For 30 years Twilight has been one of the best commercial sign makers in Canada, hired by companies to work on corporate HQs, hospitals, hotels, restaurants and especially retail spaces.
But if you haven’t heard, retail can be a tough market these days. So much shopping has moved online that storefronts are shuttering left and right; they just can’t beat those Amazon prices. To thrive in retail today, you need to create a special brand experience you can’t get online.
The good news? That’s Twilight’s speciality. Their best projects always involve getting engaged early to help bring designs to life in fully branded spaces. Making signs is just the last, most visible step.
“There are companies that can design signage, but none that also have the expertise to plan and build a brand in three dimensions,” said Bill Houston, CEO of Twilight. “And clients need that—when they have a design but suddenly need to think about how it handles foot traffic, or how it looks during the day vs at night, or from hundreds of feet away.”
But here’s the rub: the only people who knew that side of Twilight were those who already worked with them. “Our clients saw us as creative partners, and came to us early in the process to take on new and exciting projects,” said Bill. “But our prospects just saw us a builders: ‘here’s the specs, can you make this?’ We weren’t articulating our full value well, so we had a hard time getting more of that work.”
“Our clients saw us as creative partners…but our prospects just saw us a builders: ‘here’s the specs, can you make this?’ We weren’t articulating our full value well.”
So to get more upstream creative projects, they needed to shift how prospects think about Twilight (or reposition the brand, in marketingspeak). When you have a spec and are ready to produce, you hire a vendor that makes signs; when you want to envision and execute an experience in 3D, you need a partner in branded spaces.
To reposition Twilight, a new dimension was added to their story. In addition to sharing the end product, they started highlighting their collaborative process—Creative MagicTM—to show how they take you from inspiration to installation. That means they can attract more innovative clients who are still figuring it out, whether it’s a new concept store or unique bank headquarters or massive hospital campus. “Our specialty is taking a creative concept or brand vision and figuring out how to bring it to life,” said Craig Pharoah, Sales & Marketing Manager. “Prototyping often becomes a critical part in ensuring the design intent is met.”
To embody the new strategy, Twilight also needed a visual and verbal upgrade. The old logo communicated signmaker, while the new brand identity signals vision, energy and perspective—like a sunrise from below, it speaks as much to the creative process as the end result. With a bold palette and friendly typography, Twilight’s visual language speaks more to imagination than fabrication.
And the new brand messaging was designed to focus on benefits over features. Building owners want their space to be attractive but practical; architects and designers want their vision brought to life; brand managers need the experience to align with the brand’s promise and persona. A story that stays true to a core message but flexes for different audiences and media was essential.
Beyond just a cosmetic makeover, the brand reposition work has opened business opportunities for Twilight. “Now we’re able to show who we really are. There’s been a great response, and we’re gaining traction around it. We’ve focused our marketing, while also reaching out in a more targeted way to designers and architects and agencies. And we’re able to charge appropriately.”
“Our speciality is taking a creative concept or brand vision and figuring out how to bring it to life.”
But it wasn’t always easy. “Our new brand was so different and bold, and for many employees it it was a lot to digest,” said Bill. “So we rolled this out internally to include the whole team, to show the importance and value of the reposition: better business, better clients, higher revenue. There was a lot of trial and error, but we’re always getting better and there’s tremendous upside.”
Rebranding is not for the faint of heart. But when your space is being disrupted, staying ahead of change can make the difference between sinking or swimming. Or as it says in the Twilight Manifesto: “when the time comes to build or renovate a space, do it right or not at all.”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Twilight was rebranded in collaboration with the partners at Bluegreen Branding, along with some incredibly talented designers and innovators. For more detail on how it all went down, contact Charlene Gervais at email@example.com